After living in our Columbus 5th wheel full-time for a year and a half, I was very settled and comfortable. I knew everything about the unit, and I was used to our routine. I loved the floor plan, and my mom was just about to make personalized window treatments to make it even more “homey.” I truly felt at home in it, and I was very happy with it (except for the two weeks the washing machine was broken; that was absolute hell.) Enter the Weigh Station.
Eric and I own an RV technology company, and we carry a lot of inventory and trade show fixtures, and when we weighed the RV on a trip, we realized we were seriously pushing the maximum weight we were supposed to carry with the RV, and we didn’t even have everything in it! It was the moment of truth: get rid of the majority of our personal things in order to carry business things around (not really an option), or upgrade to a Class A motor home where we could carry far more weight with no problems.
Although it was an obvious choice, it was not an easy one. Eric LOVED his F350, and by making this decision, it would be sold and we would keep the 4Runner as a tow vehicle. That was a hard one for him at first. That is, until we actually started shopping for new RVs. Wow! There are some pretty incredible RVs out there!
We had a few “must-have” and “must-have-nots” when shopping:
- First of all, 40ish feet was our limit. Eric did not want a tag axle, and that is about the length you can get without one.
- Secondly, we did not want a bath-and-a-half. That is a hard one. 99% of the RVs we looked at had them. Because we travel alone, we simply do not need an extra half bath. (When you only have 350-400 square feet to work with, every inch counts!)
- We also had to have a computer workstation. We didn’t want a booth or dinette table. We wanted a dedicated area that we could both work with plenty of drawers, cabinets, and file drawers to hide our TechnoRV “stuff.” In the 5th wheel we had a booth which I loved, but I could never hide the work. I always felt like there was an office in my house at all times, and there was never enough room for everything. When your RV is not only your home, but your home office, storage becomes important.
- Eric is 6’3″, so he always gets in the shower first when we tour an RV. If it doesn’t give him enough space, we immediately leave. A spacious shower is a must-have for him. Me? Not so much. I figure, if it fits him, I’ll fit.
- Now, Eric didn’t care, but I wanted a kitchen with plenty of counter space. So many Class As have little counter space compared to our 5th wheel where we had an entire island of counter space, but I was determined to find something that allowed me prep space without moving appliances.
- Finally, we wanted our TV across from our seating area. We had that with our Columbus, but we saw so many motor homes that had TVs in horrible places where you had to turn your head to watch TV. Eric’s ideal seating situation would have been an L-shaped couch, since we had one in our house before we sold it, and we loved it.
So that was it. We set off to find our “dream RV,” although we only had a couple of weeks to do so. We were leaving for another RV show, and had to have something by then.
We asked around and consistently heard that Newmar and Tiffin were 2 of the best motor homes you could get. They are both family-owned and seem to meet the customers’ needs better than others due to not being a corporation. We decided to look at both, although we weren’t ruling out the others.
Now, we live in Alabama, and we found out quickly that nobody in Mobile, Alabama sells Class A RVs. We had to drive to see them. We took a day trip to Louisiana to a couple of places that had several to choose from. Sadly, we found out there were not many that met our “list.” Some excelled in some areas, but fell flat in others. Now, we had to start prioritizing our list. Apparently, we were not going to be able to find an RV with everything we wanted. Disappointment.
The Newmars were beautiful and we were told no other RV was made better from the inside. That was very appealing, but when we went in them, we didn’t feel “home.” Too many things were off. We toured a Forest River, and although the price was right, we didn’t love it. It had the L-shaped couch and a couple of other things, but not enough to make you excited. There was a Thor that had a beautiful L-shaped living space, but we would have to deal with a half-bath and no computer work station. It was becoming frustrating, fast.
Then, we toured a Tiffin Phaeton. The minute we stepped in, we were blown away. It was simply beautiful. The flooring, cabinets, furniture, everything…it just made you want to stay. The first one we saw was the 40AH – it had an L-shaped couch, ONE huge bathroom with a shower big enough for Eric, ability to have a computer workstation, and a walk-in closet to die for (in an RV, at least!) – all without a tag-axle! Eric fell in love with the “shiny” floors, and If that wasn’t enough, the salesperson showed me where a kitchen counter pulled out in the kitchen adding tons of prep space. Every must-have was checked. I was a happy girl.
Now to find a 40AH that had the computer workstation. Shouldn’t be hard, since Tiffins are very popular. We found a couple, but the exterior colors weren’t my favorite. I would have settled, but it wasn’t my favorite, and when you buy a home, you want it to meet your needs (especially when you can’t repaint it like a house.) Time was ticking, and we had to get started with the buying process soon if we wanted it in time for our next show. We were staying in Mobile until we left.
We finally found one in Tampa at Lazy Days that had everything we wanted, with a beautiful exterior. The interior wasn’t first choice, but Eric loved it, so I was happy. We called them and made a deal in days. It had everything on our list, and more! I got a dishwasher, heated floors, a walk-in closet, and more. It was perfect.
Now that we have lived in the Tiffin for a few weeks, I am in love with it, although I am still learning it. It is very different that my 5th wheel. There is a steering wheel in my house. The steps are steeper. I’m having to learn where to “hide” everything. But, I am still in love. My kitchen is wonderful – the counter is spacious, I have extra space for appliances, I have a dishwasher ( I haven’t for over a year), and I have an induction cooktop and convection microwave – no propane or oven. The closet is fabulous – I have more than three times the closet space I had before, and it helps to keep things organized. My bathroom looks like a house bathroom – double sinks, spacious shower, and plenty of storage space. No tub, but I’m a shower girl anyway. We have a white leather L-shaped couch that faces the TV and Eric is in heaven! He loves the white and the shiny (heated) white floor, and since he loves them so much, I let him clean them.
Aside from the inside, I love how easy it is to move in the motor home compared to the 5th wheel. I don’t have to even go outside to pack up and leave or to set up. We stay in parking lots on late nights when we just want to sleep and it’s nothing more than cutting the engine and going to bed, which we could never do in a 5th wheel. In a 5th wheel, it was a lot of work to get settled when we parked; the new RV is so easy to park and set up. I don’t have to wait to get everything unhooked from the truck then hooked up to power – not to mention walking into a hot RV that has been without AC and power for as long as we have traveled. I think it is safe to say, I love the convenience of the new RV.
Plus traveling in the new RV saves us money! In the 5th wheel, we stopped at Travel Centers to fuel up or eat, and we would load up on lunch and snacks, since we were sitting in the truck cab and had nothing to eat. In addition, we stopped frequently so I could go to the restroom. Now in the Tiffin, we rarely stop. I make lunch while driving and can use the restroom, bedroom, or anything else anytime I need it. Eric pulls into a rest area quickly to use the restroom, but never gets out. Travel Centers only make money on our fuel, and we eat much better.
So, it’s only been less than a month, but I am very happy with our purchase. Our Tiffin feels like home; it is our home. I don’t regret our upgrade since we desperately needed the space underneath, but more than that, I love the new space. I look forward to many more memories and years in it.
To see the inside of the new RV on the day we picked it up, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6OA2-Wb7LQ